Bob, VA3QV, has got to be one of the best friends Radio Amateurs of Canada has in the blogosphere. His VA3QV Blog is must reading around here and today’s posting is no exception. Bob has got a pretty good grip on what’s being ailing RAC and has the courage to speak out about it. I highly recommend you read Bob’s post. And watch the video :)
Bob makes some good points and I’d like to add my comments to them here.
Bob is correct in saying that John Bartlett, VE1OZ/HK3OZ, created a document called RAC’s Strategic Future which was presented to the Radio Amateurs of Canada’s board meeting held in Cornwall back in 2008. Why was it not brought forward to the membership and acted upon is something that happened in 2008 and don’t have an answer.
What I can say is if you’ve read John’s work in bringing us back to this visioning process, you’ve not only seen everything that was in the 2008 document but a whole lot more.
What concerns me is in some of the communications dating back to the 2008 meeting there are some references to what might happen if RAC didn’t change. The conclusions back then were, among other things: that RAC would face declining membership; loss of revenue from sale of ads and products; which would result in a financial deficit.
Now Bob moves forward in his commentary to point the fickle finger of fate at what he calls the Magnificent 7 (which was really a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 classic The Seven Samurai) which is composed of the seven regional directors of RAC. (Well at least he didn’t lump President Geoff, VE4BAW into this as we might have had Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs but that’s another movie.)
Under RAC’s current governance structure the seven directors are the only folks with an actual vote when it comes down to making decisions. And, as much as I’d like to see this change, it’s not the real problem! In a year and half I have yet to hear the directors make a decision that hasn’t been for the overall good of Amateur Radio and Radio Amateurs of Canada.
What the larger problem has been is getting board and executive members to enlist the help of all members of Radio Amateurs of Canada to act upon the things that need doing. This board/executive group (and I’m including myself here) and the boards that preceded it have been pretty good at doing some things right but, the question remains, have we been doing the right things?
That’s why several of us are pushing very hard to implement this visioning process in 2010. If we members leave it in the hands of seven guys who got voted in and a dozen or so folks who got appointed (like me) to do the work then we’re in a lot more trouble than we might have thought. There’s too much work to go around and it’s all important work.
Let’s face reality here. Over the years some of the guys on the “team” haven’t been pulling their weight and some are working way too hard in their volunteer position but this is the nature of any group and should come as no surprise.
The problem is this fact has been pretty much ignored. There are no job descriptions and no work reviews. No one is held to account. This is a serious flaw in our management structure and needs to be addressed.
And I disagree with critics who say you can’t hold volunteers to account. Tell that to the volunteers who work fearlessly for organizations like the Canadian Red Cross Society or the men and women who put their lives on the line working for volunteer fire departments across Canada. Nonsense. We should expect more and demand more from our volunteers and those who aren’t willing to work hard during their tenure should make way for new blood. I believe strongly in rotation of leadership and I will rotate my way out of the VP of PR position to allow somebody else to get involved and make a contribution.
Take the national membership campaign for an example. I got all kinds of heat around not offering some incentives to encourage people to join. I don’t believe in offering incentives to join an organization where the benefits are so obvious. What I asked for was that everyone in the leadership group take personal responsibillity to ask at least 20 other hams to join our national organization.
So far, I’ve had two reports of minimal success. When Ontario South Assistant Director Doug, VE3JDF and I worked the Ontario Hamfest in Milton, which is a medium-size fleamarket, we got 25 people to join or renew in three hours. How? We asked everybody who walked passed the booth whether or not they were a RAC member. Those who said yes, we thanked for their support. Those who said no, we asked them to join us in supporting their national organization.
Poor President Geoff who has been with us for a year or so, I am certain sits up in bed and asks himself “what did I get myself into?” I, on the other hand, wake up in the middle of the night and go back to a restful sleep knowing we have a president with huge amounts of group experience and government work behind him. (Geoff’s a big mucky muck in the Manitoba government in case you didn’t know.) The few calls for his departure are both premature and uncalled for.
I’m not saying that President Geoff is going to save the day but I am saying he’s the best shot we’ve got right now and I for one do not intend to let him down by keeping my comments to myself or by not doing what I say I will do.
Now as to Bob’s comments about the directors’ comments. If Bob is speaking about the 2010 Transformational Process, I agree with him. There has been little comment or public support of the process and that concerns me.
However, if Bob is speaking about the directors’ willingness (even eagerness) to communicate directly with members and non-members who have raised issues, then I can clarify the situation. Every comment or blog posting that affects the board or RAC or has been a complaint aimed at an individual has been forwarded by me to the board/executive group email. In every case where there has been an accusation of neglect, the affected board member or members have communicated directly back to the person.
So far in 99.99% of the cases where we’ve been accused of ignoring someone it has been my experience that there was a simple breakdown in the communications. (When it comes to emails, we have the ability to search our database for the original email and often it just isn’t there. Some people put way too much faith in sending a single email and then not taking responsibility to follow it up or to make a personal telephone call. All of our phone numbers are on page 4 of TCA so really folks there’s no excuse to claim you were ignored if you didn’t take the time to call.)
Finally as to Bob’s comment about RAC being a secret society, I agree. Member-driven public organization should not have any closed meetings with the sole exceptions of issues dealing with competitive bidding for services or matters involving paid staff (where professional reputations are involved). Again in almost two years I have never heard a single decision discussed and voted upon that could not have taken place in public.
I hold a minority point of view here and have been told as much but that’s why we have annual general meetings which are run under Robert’s Rules of Order and are open to all (not just members) and subject to motions from members….like me and you :)
So Bob (and the rest of you) remember the power to change RAC for the better rests in the hands of the ultimate authority – the members – you OMs and YLs who care about Amateur Radio. This might come as a shock to a few folks.